Credit: Caitlin Scott | Mustang News


Clutching a skateboard and wearing ankle-high, hemmed baggy jeans and dirty white Converse, 20-year-old Sophia Marquez dropped in the 10-foot-deep bowl at Santa Rosa Skate Park.

The environmental management and protection senior frequents the skate park every other night and is part of the glue that holds San Luis Obispo’s women’s skateboarding community together. 

Marquez has been skateboarding for two years and recently entered, and won, her first skateboarding competition at the Central Coast Monster Skateboarding Series held at Santa Rosa Skatepark. She was one of three women — including fellow skaters Elie Horsman and Hana Goodman — who participated at the competition.

“It lit a fire under my ass and I’m like, ‘I need more of this. It was really fun, and I felt recognized and validated.”

Last year, Marquez, Goodman and Horsman started networking with other girls to organize a local women’s skateboarding community. The trio is part of a recent worldwide surge in female skaters. 

Caitlin Scott | Mustang News


According to GRINDTV, 16 percent of the skateboarding industry involves women or girls who describe themselves as a “core skater.” Core skaters are defined as having skated 52+ times per year (once a week, on average), according to Public Skatepark Development Guide

“It’s starting to blow up, and we’re everywhere,” Horsman said. “Every town I go to, I’ll see a new girl skater when I’m driving with my partner. … It’s so sick.”

Film director Crystal Moselle ran into a group of teenage girl skateboarders on a New York City subway which inspired her 2018 film, Skate Kitchen. In an interview with NPR, Moselle said girls are meeting each other through Youtube, commenting on each other’s videos and creating communities.

Just as Moselle had observed, Marquez said she bonds with fellow female skateboarders through social media. 

“I mostly came in contact with girls through Instagram and mutual friends,” Marquez said. “I often get DM’d by girls that want to learn to skate, but are intimidated by other skaters.”

The International Olympic Committee unanimously voted to add skateboarding to the roster of events at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. Diversifying the Games’ events is part of the committee’s plan to reach a younger audience with the purpose of focusing on innovation and flexibility. 

Two years after the Olympic announcement, USA Skateboarding (USAS) has finally announced the 16 skaters heading to Japan — eight of them are women, including three California natives. Brighton Zeuner and Bryce Wettstein both reside in Encinitas, and Lacey Baker is from Covina.

Caitlin Scott | Mustang News


“It’s really cool to see women in the Olympics skating,” Horsman said. “It’s really freaking awesome. We’ve come a long way. A long, long way.”

Horsman mentioned Patti McGee, the first professional female skateboarder in the late 60s, who was featured in Life magazine as the National Girls Champion in 1965. In 2010, she became the first female inductee into the International Association of Skateboard Companies Skateboard Hall of Fame.

“In the 70s, young women in skateboarding were often made fun of and weren’t accepted within the skateboarding community and didn’t stick around,” Morro Bay Skateboard Museum curator and director Jack Smith said.

Smith, president of the nonprofit Morro Bay Skateboard Museum, has been involved in the skateboard scene since the mid 60s. In the late 70s and throughout the 80s, he skateboarded at a professional level, competing nationally in downhill and slalom events. 

“Back in the days the only time you would see girls in a skateboard magazine was if they were wearing short-shorts or a bikini,” Smith said. “Now you see pictures of girls ripping.”

According to Vice News, female skaters have moved from the margins into the spotlight, and big-name sponsors are noticing. Today the skateboarding community is on the verge of mainstream acceptance.

“If it gets too scary for you, you were never meant to skate in the first place,” Marquez said, quoting late Thrasher editor-in-chief Jake Phelps. “If you want it, you gotta get it, just literally grab it; it’s all right there. You’re gonna get hurt; it’s a rite of passage, so just do it.”

Zach Donnenfield, Caitlin Scott, and Kaylin Waizinger also contributed to this story.

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